pexels-photo-1120344One reason why it can be so difficult to make progress with our goals is that we’ve not learned how to set good boundaries to protect our time and energy levels. There are only so many hours in the day, and, they are best spent doing those things that you love, and, that help you achieve your objectives. Often we find ourselves saying yes to things that we don’t want to do, and, that we don’t have time to do. Usually, we say yes simply out of habit, or because we don’t like to feel as though we are letting others down.

Setting healthy boundaries between ourselves, and others, and learning how to say no and mean it, without hurting the other person, are valuable life skills to have. It’s also the first step that you will need to take if you want to achieve your objectives.

Give Yourself Time to Consider Requests

Growing up, you likely experienced the feeling of rejection when your parents or other adults denied your requests. Many of us carry these feeling with us into adulthood and say yes to avoid disappointing others. Give yourself space to consider what you are being asked before you provide an answer.

This pause gives your brain time to think about the proposal so that you don’t feel compelled to automatically say yes out of fear, or habit. Show the person that you value them and your relationship with them by letting them know you need some time to think about their request, and that you will get back to them with an answer by a specified time.

Cushion the Blow with an Alternative

Once you’ve reached your decision, if you still feel guilty about rejecting the proposal, don’t give in and say yes when its really not something you want to do. Instead, advise the person that you can’t take them up on their offer at this time. Next, propose an alternative solution for them to consider.

For example, if they asked for your help on a specific date, you could offer to help them at a later time, or, you could provide the name of someone else who can help them instead. You could also simply say, “No, I am not able to do it at this time, but I will let you know when and if I can do it later.”

Give the Other Person a Choice

Sometimes, others ask us to do things without realising that they are asking too much. This is especially true in work situations when our peers or others in a leadership role sometimes ask us to complete too many tasks in too little time. If you really want to say yes but know that you don’t have enough time to do each of the tasks well, give the requester a choice. You could say something along the lines of, “I will be glad to help you with tasks A, B and C, but will need more time to do a good job. How would you like me to prioritise them?”

Be Polite, but Firm

Sometimes, you really do need to take a stand and not give the other party an opening to continue trying to change your mind. This is especially true in relationships where you’ve not done a good job defining and protecting your boundaries in the past. In these situations, you should simply say no when you are asked to do something that you don’t want to do. Be polite, but remain firm. If you don’t want to say the actual word no simply let the other person know that you just aren’t able to make the request a priority now, and then let it go. Don’t let the other person make you feel guilty or try to pressure you into providing more of an explanation because you really don’t owe anyone anything. Your time is valuable, and you have a duty to yourself, as well as a right, to refuse requests!